Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 3 - FOODINTEGRITY (Ensuring the Integrity of the European food chain)

Project Context and Objectives:

The Challenge

“The provision of safe and authentic European food produced to defined quality standards is a key expectation of consumers as well as a key selling point for the European agri-food economy. European food is recognised globally for its high standards of production, labelling and safety. As such it is susceptible to lower quality imitations that seek to exploit the added value that European products have with respect to consumers and the global food market. Counterfeiting of food products has a major detrimental effect on the EU food industry as consumers start to doubt the authenticity of European brands.”
These comments above, contained in the submitted FoodIntegrity proposal of 2013 still very much apply at the time of writing January 2018. Food fraud continues to have a high profile in news and media, as evidenced by the Fipronil incident in Europe and the meat scandal in Brazil, being just two of a number of major international incidents in 2017 where food integrity was compromised.
Alongside these scandals technology has continued to develop in this digital age. “Big Data”, BlockChain and Artificial Intelligence have the potential to provide solutions to food fraud problems but questions such has exactly how and when, have yet to be answered. Similarly stakeholders continue to look for more cost effective solutions for verifying the integrity of the food and food chain, rapid methods, hand held devices, non-targeted analysis are candidate solutions but what are their applications and limitations? Most methods rely on databases that describe “normality” but 2017 also saw food databases come under intense scrutiny in particular in terms of when is a database fit for purpose?
FoodIntegrity (FI), the project, continues to address these questions either directly through latest research, through scientific reviews or through workshops where FI brings together stakeholders and experts discuss potential applications and solutions.

Project objectives
The aim of FoodIntegrity (FI) is to:
• provide Europe with state of the art and integrated capability for detecting fraud and assuring the integrity of the food chain;
• develop a sustainable body of expertise that can inform high level stakeholder platforms on food fraud / authenticity issues and priorities;
• act as a bridge that will link previous research activities, assess capability gaps, commission research and inform Horizon 2020 research needs.

The FoodIntegrity project will achieve these aims by fulfilling the following specific objectives
1. Establish an international network of expertise that will inform regulatory and industry stakeholders about food authenticity issues and inform Horizon 2020 on future research needs.
2. Consolidate available information on existing datasets, available methodology and establish a tangible knowledge base that can be interrogated and which will facilitate data sharing between European stakeholders.
3. Prioritise research requirements to fill the commodity, method, reference data and intelligence gaps.
4. Commission research and development needed to address the gaps.
5. Develop fit for purpose verification methods and systems for three food commodities that are significantly affected by adulteration and fraud (olive oil, spirits and seafood).
6. Investigate consumer attitudes and perceptions toward food authenticity and traceability, of European products, in home and emerging markets (using China as a case study).
7. Develop and test an early warning system for use by stakeholders that can identify potential food fraud events.
8. Provide practical tools and systems that can be integrated into food industry production and supply chains for assuring the integrity of food.
9. Ensure knowledge transfer of FoodIntegrity outputs and initiatives to the food industry, regulatory, enforcement, research and consumer stakeholders.


Project Results:
FI is now revealing the fruits of its research with ~ 50 deliverables reported to date. Some of the key outputs in the first four years of the project were:
• A FoodIntegrity network has been established comprising experts and stakeholders on food integrity issues.

• Eight scientific opinions on key scientific issues chosen by stakeholders have been published/submitted/in press in high profile scientific journals

• 11 workshops (York (2), Bilbao(2), Prague(2), Lodi, Lisbon, Parma(2), Budapest) have taken place to discuss key food integrity issues.

• A user friendly knowledge open source knowledgebase of information on analytical methods used for authenticity/fraud detection purposes has been produced, beta tested and its sustainability secured through agreed hosting at the new European Commission, European Food Fraud Knowledge Centre at Geel, Belgium. It will go live in September 2018.

• Comprehensive analysis of gaps in food fraud research undertaken in 2014 and again in 2017

• Transnational study of olive oil regulations and standards around the world together with an assessment of the best methods currently available for detecting geographical origin of olive oil.

• Assessment and technology transfer of rapid methods for authenticating spirit drinks

• Large pan-European citizen science study of fish misdescription in the HORECA sector

• A toolbox linking seafood claims to analytical and paper trail methods

• A wiki containing news stories on food integrity issues

• A novel algorithm for collecting news stories on food integrity issues

• A study of Chinese consumers on how they perceive and purchase European food products

• Guidance to European industry on how best to market their products to Chinese consumers

• A system for predicting the type of food fraud involved when a food incident occurs

• A fully functioning Early Warning System for predicting food fraud risks

• Eight new research topics commissioned and in progress in the following areas:

- Authentication of complex foods using protein signatures

- Markers of composition and stability along the food-production chain

- Use mobile phone technology to detect species substitution.

- Improving Supply Chain Integrity through Data Sharing

- Feasibility study on information sharing and analysis along the food chain to identify emerging food integrity issues.

- The development and validation of a protocol, to process large data sets originated from untargeted analyses

- NIRS microsensors and ICT platforms for ensuring on-site authentication of high added value European foods: Case study Iberian ham

- Integrity of complex foods: innovation in analysis and communication

• Industry applications in the area of: guides and tools, assessment of rapid methods for application within industry (XRF, hyperspectral imaging, Laser induced breakdown spectroscopy, NIRS, Raman,)

• Four major FoodIntegrity dissemination events: York 2014 (150 attendees), Bilbao 2015 (200), Prague (250) and Parma (350)

• International outreach activities included FI support and presentations for major conferences in China and Canada.

• In addition FI participants have presented and contributed to following international organisations/committees: CEN, Standing Committee for Agricultural Research, European Commission lunchtime seminar, Codex, GFSI.

• Publications to date: 6 FoodIntegrity newsletters (https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/foodintegrity/index.cfm?sectionid=34), 5 papers and 3 videos.

Potential Impact:
Impact
• FI has demonstrated the power and issues associated with Citizen Science through a large survey on fish in catering establishments and caused considerable interest amongst stakeholders.

• FI has improved the understanding of developing country consumer’s purchasing behaviour towards high quality European products and has provided recommendations for European industry on how to better market their products to Chinese consumers.

• Sustainability of an open source information hub on methods on analyses and data for detecting food fraud has been assured though links with JRC food fraud knowledge centre.

• FI has provided practical guides to Industry on food fraud

• Information on the performance of many different types of rapid methods and non-targeted methods has been produced

• Summaries of the current state of the art of procedures and systems for transparency and information sharing are now available.

• The website (https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/foodintegrity/index.cfm) continues to be a growing source of information with a range of web correspondents updating the site with new articles and events.

• FoodIntegrity conferences and workshops continue to be the global meeting place to discuss major food authenticity/fraud issues with over 350 attendees from 37 countries attending the 2017 event in Parma (http://foodintegrity2017-parma.eu/)

Expected Results
FoodIntegrity will enhance the value of the European Agri-food sector by developing consolidated information, processes and tools, endorsed by major stakeholders. Not only will European producers be able to provide authentic, high-quality food from sustainable production, but they will be able to document this authenticity with reference to accepted and transparent methods, both paper trail and analytical. This visibility will not only ensure that European food products are protected from counterfeiting and fraud due to state of the art systems and processes, but will also ensure that the legacy from the world’s leading food safety and quality systems is preserved/enhanced.
The final year of the project will see the following outputs:

- An additional 7 Scientific opinions published in Trends in Food Science and Technology on key issues relating to assuring the integrity of the food supply

- Launch of a fully functioning, user friendly Early Warning System for detecting food fraud risks

- Methods and approaches for authenticating complex foods

- Rapid methods for authenticating foods

- Demonstration of rapid methods in industry settings

- Case studies on transparency and information sharing

- Workshops on blockchain, non-targeted analysis, transparency and information sharing

- Over 30 scientific publications submitted or in press

- Major dissemination events: in Belfast, Nantes, South Africa), Argentina and Singapore

These final year outputs will contribute to the overall goals of the FoodIntegrity project, i.e.
• An international network of expertise that will inform regulatory and industry stakeholders about food authenticity issues and inform Horizon 2020 on future research needs

• A consolidated knowledge base on food authenticity available on central website containing readily accessible information on publications, reports, media articles, videos, existing datasets, available methodology.

• Outputs of new research on: non targeted analysis, procedures for authenticating complex foods, rapid methods and increased transparency along the food chain

• Fit for purpose verification methods and systems for three exemplar food products that are frequently affected by adulteration and fraud

• Improved understanding of Chinese consumers’ attitudes and perceptions toward food authenticity and traceability of European products

• Provide practical tools and systems that can be integrated into food industry production and supply chains for assuring the integrity of food


List of Websites:
www.foodintegrity.eu

Related information

Reported by

FERA SCIENCE LIMITED
United Kingdom
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